Saturday, March 19, 2011

New ATM PayPass Card

Just received a new ATM card from my bank and it's one of those PayPass cards.  Now I'm wondering if this technology changes anything about the way I use my ATM card in Europe.  I've never had a problem making bank withdrawals with my ATM card in Europe and I wouldn't like that to change.  Europeans have used chip-and-PIN credit and debit cards - "smartcards" - for some time already now, and most of Western Europe should be totally converted to chip and PIN in 2012.  Information I've read, however, says you'll still be able to use your magnetic strip credit cards, as long as the merchant has swipe capability.

Hubby and I try to charge most of our expenses in Europe on a credit card when possible (not possible at little crêpe stands in Paris or local ferryboats in Denmark, for example), and are always pleased to see the reasonable exchange rate we get on our bill when we get home.  But when you do need cash, we've found that the most affordable and convenient way to exchange currency in Europe is through an ATM.  The exchange rates are always competitive, even when you factor in any fees they might charge.  Just be sure you call your bank from home before you leave on your trip and let them know where you'll be traveling, otherwise their fraud department might freeze your account.

With this new embedded chip technology comes the risk of "electronic pickpocketing."  (Always something new to worry about it, isn't there?)  Theoretically, a criminal with a few high-tech devices could scan the information through your back pocket and gain access to your card number without ever laying a hand on your card.  Since 2007, even passports have embedded computer chips, so identity thieves could hypothetically lift that information, too.  Sigh . . . the pros and cons of technology.


  1. Have you heard anything about those cases for passports and credit cards that block the signals? I'm think I may have to look into it a bit more...


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